Preti Taneja was announced the tenth winner of the annual Gordon Burn Prize for her book Aftermath. The prize honours the year’s most “dazzlingly bold and forward-thinking fiction and non-fiction” written in English.

Aftermath was declared the winner on October 13 at the Durham Book Festival, picked by a panel of judges comprising sportswriter and columnist Jonathan Liew, author Denise Mina, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, artist and poet Heather Phillipson, and writer Chitra Ramaswamy.

Aftermath is a lament on trauma, terror, prison and grief, following the London Bridge terror attack in 2019. Usman Khan, who was convicted for the attack, spent eight years in prison. He later went on to kill two people, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, at an event marking the anniversary of a prison programme he had participated in. Taneja had taught Khan in prison and Jack Merritt was her colleague. Aftermath is a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and rebuild faith in human compassion through a powerful recommitment to activism and radical hope.

The Gordon Burn Prize encourages a diverse range of themes and perspectives inspired by the cultural and social concerns of the present with special focus on books by writers from backgrounds underrepresented in the mainstream literary culture. The winning writer receives an amount of £5,000 and is offered the opportunity to undertake a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn’s cottage in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders.

Taneja’s first novel was We That Are Young, a retelling of William Shakespeare’s King Lear set in an Indian business family.